Junzi (Man of Virtue)

Junzi (君子) was originally used to indicate a person’s social status, generally referring to a ruler or a member of the aristocracy. Beginning with Confucius, the term acquired an additional moral dimension and came to mean someone of true virtue. The opposite of junzi is xiaoren (小人), which roughly means the “petty men.” In the Confucian tradition, junzi is someone who is above a scholar and below a sage in terms of moral influence. A man of virtue pursues and practices the ideal known as Dao and regards Dao as the fundamental meaning of life above power or gains.


A man of virtue understands and observes what is morally right; while a petty man only has his eyes on and goes after what brings personal gains.

A man of virtue is someone who has achieved moral integrity.